University of Oulu

Thinking academic partnerships beyond dominant structures : an analysis of Global North and Global South partnership experts’ joint perceptions

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Author: Georges, Anais1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Pages: 90
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Georges, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-06-28
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Matengu, Marika
Reviewer: Lehtomäki, Elina
Matengu, Marika


North-South academic partnerships are crucial to develop research-based solutions to global educational challenges. To ensure that North-South cooperation is meaningful, it is essential to prevent power imbalances that emerged during the colonial era from being reproduced in partnerships. Although increasing research is being conducted with this aim, there still is a lack of inclusion of Southern voices in research about good practices in academic partnerships. Moreover, the implications for academic partnerships of dominant Global North time conceptions and increasing efficiency requirements in higher education has been little explored in research.

This qualitative study aims at investigating Global North and Global South partnership experts’ joint perceptions of good partnerships. It also explores the time structures they perceive as contributing to good partnerships. This study is informed by data from six online whiteboards on which academics from Finnish and African higher education institutions and other partnership stakeholders indicated ingredients of good partnerships and actions to make them a reality.

Thematic analysis revealed three components of good partnerships: meaningful relational processes, joint and equitable organizational processes and balanced time structures. The research findings suggest that the partnership building process is the main factor that determines the quality of the partnership and its impact. The findings also indicate a need to rethink efficiency criteria in order to take into account the complex and contextually-bound temporalities and dynamics of North-South partnerships. This study contributes to the Finnish University Partnership for International Development and the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning’s joint work to strengthen responsible academic collaboration between Finnish and African higher education institutions. The study highlights the importance of continuing to conduct research that aims at questioning and challenging dominant structures in North-South academic partnerships.

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Copyright information: © Anais Georges, 2023. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.